Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Early Mornings in Granollers

When we arrived for the first time in Bangkok, there was a parade of people walking in the parks. There was organised aerobics, tai chi and yoga, along with the more popular jogging, stretching and dog walking.

Here, in Granollers, there is a distinct lack of movement anywhere at 6, or even at 7 in the morning. A few cars drive past. The sun trickles up over the mountain range casting a iron blue across the sky, and it seems almost everyone is in bed.

It’s the time for me to practice qigong in the park across the road. Actually, to be completely serious, I live on Park Avenue. Not a bad location if I must say so myself. And I treasure the late mornings of the Catalans if it means I can have some quite time with trees.

Post script – The above was written with pure intention. I went down to practice qigong in the park, and it seems the council locks the park at night time. It was still locked at 8 am, so I don’t know when it opens yet.

Why, you ask, do they lock the park? I've never seen a park locked before either. It seems its locked at night so dark shadows can not linger in the protection of the trees. I don’t know the history of the park. Perhaps its warranted.

The Surface Catalan Attitude

First Impressions of the Catalan attitude

Honestly, hardly any one smiles. It’s a hard difference to take after the eager smiles of Malaysia and Cambodia.

To put it in context, it is Spring, and its still cold, and people are wrapped in black and dark grey.
There seems to be a few distinct groups. There are the obvious foreigners, of varying colour and traditional clothing. There’s a small, darker more voluptuous and vocally expressive people who say ‘de nada’ and there is a lighter, slimmer more reserved people who say ‘de res’.

Many of the women are dress conscious. Especially from the ages of 30 up. The younger women seem to carefully attired as discreet brand hippies. Loose hair and baggy clothes, but perfect eye brows and accessories. Strange mix.

The men are pretty non descript at this stage. Nobody struts. Nobody really does anything out of order. Its obviously not the Spain one reads about or sees on TV.

I did meet one really friendly woman, but it turned out she was from the South.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Late Lunches

Lunch in Spain begins after 2 and before 4. Before you ask, ‘dinner’ is at 10. Yes. 10 pm. Lunches can last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours and I have, honestly, been to one that started at 2 and we left at 2. A mind blowing 12 hours! It was at this one where I saw pig’s faces being eaten for the first time.

From what I’ve experienced, the dinners (other people make) are made of four servings.

1 – little tidbits of food placed in small plates. This could be a salad, potato chips, olives, cheese, meat (typically delicatessen ham) served with white wine.

2- The main meat dish. (they can serve rabbit at this stage for a Sunday dinner) The wine may change accordingly.

3- Dessert is served. This can consist of chocolates, cookies and a cake. Once you have finished eating, then the coffee is served.

4 – Coffee, perhaps with a liquor.

If the guests linger, then chocolates are produced.

Learning Catalan

I bought ‘Teach Your Self Catalan’ (cd and book) 18 months ago. I’ve looked at it a few times and listened a few more. In January, I set myself a timetable to try to dedicate myself to learning some basics. Still I can’t seem to get past unit three. I can say things like ‘I’m Tiffany. I’m Australian. And I’m 37 years old.’ But its not really great conversation topics.

I bore myself by saying ‘soc aqui!’ every now and then. (I’m here! – Unit 1, conversation 2)

Goofed Greetings

Yesterday we met one of Albert’s school friends, and as we were introduced, I threw my hand out without a thought and almost instantaneously I saw him leaning in for the double kisses and then felt my hand being engulfed and thought ‘damn it, I forgot’ – and the moment passed.

Here, as in other Mediterranean areas, they do the double kiss, when greeting someone. Actually Albert and his friend didn’t kiss. But they are metal/hard rock fans, and maybe they are exempt from it since it’s a bit of a pansy kind of greeting, isn’t it? The fact is, the handshake felt like I was insisting on my reserve, on my difference and on keeping space between us. It felt masculine and like I was enforcing my equality. It didn’t help that he didn’t know how to shake hands with a strong personality. His hand was weak and a little crumpled and regardless of my rational thought, I felt the according symbology of defeated, unstable and insignificant. Yes, all in a moment’s handshake.

I’m in two minds about the double kisses. The biggest problem I face is that I don’t feel comfortable with kissing strangers. I have trouble kissing friends and family – and the prolonged hug is often uncomfortable for me.

However, I do wish, as they say, to do as the Roman’s do while in Rome, so, I would like to be able to do the double kiss.

I guess its just practice and getting used to the physical contact. And also, not taking it so personally. The British traditions really mess with your mind.

Wiggling Words

We discovered that ‘fire’ in Catalan was ‘fok’, and Jett, my nine year old, laughed inappropriately in his adopted Catalan Grandfather’s face every time he repeated the unfortunate word. I thought, oh little Jett, you are immature at times.

Then, half an hour later, I discovered we were going to eat something called ‘fartons’ and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it to prove it. Small things amuse small minds, they say.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Introductory Post


My name is Tiffany. I’m Australian. I’m 37 years old and am a health instructor.

In April of 2009 I moved, with my son and my partner, to Granollers, Catalonia, Spain.

This blog is intended to record and share some of our experiences in moving to another country.

If you would like to see some of our previous experiences while travelling, take a look at our World Nomad Travel Journals.

My partner, Albert (he’s Catalan), also keeps a journal of his life since moving to Norway in 2006, and you can access it from Blogger. If you can’t read Catalan, there are photos enough to keep you occupied for days (sometimes 100 photos per post!).

If you’re in the same boat, that is, you’ve moved to Spain, and would like to add some of your stories, or comment on mine, you’re hereby cordially invited.

Thanks for joining us.

Love Tiffany